Final Days of America Narrative: Prologue ‘The Last Normal Day’ Part I

Author’s Note: Okay, troops. Here is the first part of the narrative’s prologue. I’ll post the remainder over the weekend. I’ve decided to do the multiple character/perspective setup for this project. Dan Wertz will be the main character once again, however, there will be points of view added from military, government and some other civilian characters to varying degrees.

Prologue: The Last Normal Day (Part I)

Secretary of Defense Christopher McAlister looked up from the folder in his hands at the short, balding man seated across from him.

“Anything else, Scott?” He asked. Scott Goldstein, the chief liaison between the US intelligence community and the Office of the Secretary of Defense nodded his head.

“Iran, Mr. Secretary.”

McAlister’s eyebrows raised a millimeter. That surprised him. Iran has been quiet lately. Maybe too quiet. He closed the folder labeled PRC and placed it on the desk. “What’s happening there?”

“CIA is hearing rumbles about the status of Iran’s Shahab-6 missile program. It could be farther along than we believed. There might be six or seven operational prototype rockets in existence now. Not two as we’ve thought.”

“Where did the Agency get that from?” Goldstein shrugged his shoulders.

“The DCI is not saying yet. It sounds like he wants to confirm this intel before revealing more. Also, he mentioned that the Iranians appear to have ramped up training for the crews of the new transport erector launchers they purchased from North Korea. Again, nothing solid, but whispers are beginning to reach Langley.”

“And we haven’t heard anything earlier?” McAlister asked.

“Nothing. This is the first time I’ve heard of it. I’ll start making inquiries later today. But-“ Goldstein hesitated.

“But what?”

“Iran has been behaving. Their economy is in terrible condition, and they’ve had to play the game. The UN is considering easing some of the sanctions, with our support. Tehran isn’t going to mess that up. I think the Agency is on a wild goose chase.”

“Then again, maybe not.” The Secretary smiled thinly. “You’re probably right, but I want to talk to the DNI. Iran’s behaving for now, but keep in mind the fact that they do have a few nuclear weapons stashed away. They don’t know we’re aware of it. We can’t be too careful when it comes to Tehran. ” That was an understatement, both men knew.

“And that’s all I’ve got today, Mr. Secretary. This concludes your daily intelligence briefing.” Goldstein smiled.

“Nice job, Scott. Thanks.” Goldstein gathered up the folders he’d brought in, placed them inside of a briefcase and took his leave from the SecDef’s spacious, well-appointed Pentagon office. Once the man had departed, McAlister rose from his desk, and looked out the window at the Potomac river and DC in the backdrop. Sunshine and cloudless blue skies dominated the scene.

It was a warm, sunny day in Washington, DC and the surrounding area. Although it was mid-September, the transition to autumn had yet to begin on the east coast of the United States. Summer appeared reluctant to release its grip. The daily high temperatures had averaged in the mid-80s from Boston south into the DC metro area for the past week. States farther south were seeing temperatures range into the 90s. Little relief was in sight for the upcoming week, however there were signs that the weekend could be an altogether different story.

This year’s hurricane season had been an unusually quiet one up to this point. The US mainland had not been threatened or affected by a hurricane or tropical storm. In fact, the small number of systems that managed to form up had all moved along a southern track which took them through the Caribbean south of Cuba and the Isle of Hispaniola before petering out along the Mexican and Central American coastlines. Now, the trend looked to be changing.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami was keeping a close watch on Tropical Storm Jerry as it approached the Leeward Islands. Early models had shown a greater than average chance of the storm increasing in strength over the next forty-eight hours, and an even greater chance of Jerry making landfall somewhere on the east coast of the US by Friday evening. An increasing number of eyes were watching the situation in the Caribbean with growing interest and anxiety.

Weather aside, America’s thoughts were on a variety of subjects as diverse as her citizenry. The Major League Baseball regular season was winding down and a pair of pennant races were heating up in the National League East and West divisions. The New York Yankees were powering their way through the tail end of the season. The defending World Series champs looked to be a good bet to repeat the feat in October. College football was in full swing as well, and the first week of the NFL season would wrap up that evening with a Monday Night matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears.

Outside of the United States, the rest of the world was enjoying a period of tentative calm. The final Russian troops would be leaving Ukraine by the end of the month. Talks were progressing between North Korea and the western powers over incentives and aid in exchange for the scrapping of the North’s nuclear arsenal. Kim Jong Un appeared eager, for once, to begin moving in the opposite direction of his father and bring North Korea into the world community. China’s recent economic downturn had temporarily stalled its regional ambitions, much to the delight of the PRC’s neighbors.

The Middle East was quiet for once. The central government in Iraq was having success in bringing fringe groups around to the idea of a brand-new constitution. Iran appeared unwilling to stoke the flames of discontent further with its neighbors or western powers. Rumors abounded that the nuclear weapons program had plateaued, and Iran’s scientists were facing a myriad of problematic issues that would have to be handled before production of the next batch of weapons could resume. US and Israeli intelligence services were certain that the Iranians already had three low-yield weapons in their arsenal. The world continued to keep a watchful eye on Iran. However, except for Israel and to a lesser degree, the United States and the Gulf States, the global community seemed content to adopt a live and let live policy. Now that Tehran had nuclear weapons and did not appear eager to lob them at Israel the situation was calming. The European Union was peeling away sanctions and the UN was not far behind.

The storm seemed to be settling on several fronts across the globe. In Washington DC, though, thick storm clouds were gathering.

The previous week, reporters from the Washington Post had broken a story that Secretary of Treasury Emily Jefferies was having an extra marital affair with the spouse of one of her deputies. Scandals such as these are frequent in government circles, even at the highest levels of the US government. As had frequently been said in the past, nobody does scandals better than the American media, and there is a large amount of truth in that claim. The American people love a scandalous affair, the juicier the better. This one certainly met the requirements for that.

Jefferies was an openly gay cabinet member. A self-proclaimed lifelong lesbian, she had had several high-profile lovers and partners before coming to Washington the previous year. The fact that she was accused of sleeping with the wife of Deputy Secretary of the Treasury William Ahern added a new element to the scandal.

Over the weekend,  accusations had expanded to include claims of insider trading when Jefferies was the president of a large investment firm on Wall Street, as well as affairs with other staffers, some of them married. From the beginning, Jefferies vehemently denied the claims until Ahern and his wife held a press conference and verified the truthfulness of the report. Ahern went on to announce his immediate resignation from his post.

Earlier that morning, with Jefferies continuing to publicly deny the claims, rumors began circulating that Jefferies was resigning from her position. Many of Jefferies supporters and colleagues in Washington, including the President were scrambling for cover as the true scope of the scandal was became evident.

McAlister was reluctantly included in that group. The fifty-three-year-old former junior senator from Georgia was a colleague of Jefferies, not a supporter. The two had come on board the administration during the Great November Cabinet Shuffle, when four members of the President’s cabinet opted to leave government service within days of each other. He had gotten along with Jefferies well enough, and he respected her professional achievements and abilities. Izzo’s religious principles did not allow him to come to terms with her outspoken views on Gay Rights, however. And the way which she flaunted her sexuality much like a red cape in the hands of a matador. Even though Jeffries had been the darling of Washington, Alister never went to extremes to curry her favor, as so many other officials in town did.

While many of his current colleagues were preparing for damage control, Chris was diligently avoiding the scandal and going about his business. His efforts lasted until shortly before 1 PM when the White House Chief of Staff Frank Browne phoned him in his Pentagon office.

“How does your schedule tomorrow?” Browne asked, knowing full well what Izzo’s week looked like. This was how Browne worked. A consummate politician and Washington insider, the chief of staff was taking point on the Jefferies scandal. He was determined to insulate his boss thoroughly. When McAlister told him that Tuesday was a light day, Browne suggested he take the opportunity to get out of town for a day.

“I see that Tony Warner is going out to Nebraska for an inspection tour or something. Why not tag along?” General Tony Warner, USAF was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was, in fact, heading out to Offutt Air Force Base just outside of Omaha, Nebraska in the morning for a tour of Strategic Command’s headquarters. McAlister had known about it for a time and elected to go. He told Browne that he planned to stay in DC instead. There was a long pause before the chief of staff spoke again.

“Look, Chris, I think it’s in your best interests to be out of town tomorrow. Emily Jefferies is announcing her resignation in the morning and this town is going to be a zoo. The President believes, and I agree, it would be best for his senior cabinet members to remain inconspicuous for the next couple of days.” Izzo’s eyes narrowed. So, that was the prime reason for Browne’s suggestion. After a couple of seconds digesting Browne’s announcement, he found himself agreeing with the idea. It made sense.

“Where is the President going to be?” He asked.

“Camp David along with the Secretary of State. They’re going to hunker down for the day and figure out who to nominate for SecTreas. I’m staying in town to weather the storm here.”

“Well, I certainly don’t envy you.” McAlister chuckled. “And I haven’t been to Omaha in a long time. Okay, you’ve got it.”

“Thanks, Chris. Bring me back some steaks.” The line disconnected. Izzo hung the phone up and began rearranging his schedule for the next day.


Narrative Update And Sample

Evening, everyone. I wanted to take a minute to let you know the status of the FDOA narrative. It looks like I will begin posting the Prologue and Chapter 1 on 7 June. Still in the process of editing and making decisions on whether this will be from the perspective of one character or multiple. When I worked on the narrative FDOA a long time ago I had multiple characters, civilian, military and government. Their scenes blended in well together so now, if I concentrate solely on Dan Wertz and his family, additional editing will be required. I’ll post an example of what I’m talking about as far as scene blending goes below. Scene 1 will be set with Dan Wertz as he digests news of the rapidly forming crisis. Scene 2 shifts to Nightwatch and the discussion between the president, his secretary of defense and some military commanders.

Scene 1

The shower refreshed Dan tremendously. It was still somewhat warm for this time of the year and the cool water on his skin washed away the feeling of uncleanliness that the sweat had brought on. He got out of the shower, dried off and went into the bedroom to change and turned the TV on. He flipped the channel to CNN to get caught up on the news. His face was turned away from the flat screen as he searched for a pair of socks in the drawer.

“And that’s the word we are receiving from our source at the FAA,” reported the anchorwoman in Atlanta. “A ground stop has been ordered for all aircraft across the nation. Planes that are in the air now will have to divert to the nearest airport and land immediately.”

The announcement made Dan turn around and look at the TV just as the scene switched from the CNN studios in Atlanta to a live video of the DC skyline. The camera was obviously on the west side of the Potomac. The Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument were visible, with the Capitol in the background. In the sky Dan could see the shapes of helicopters. One appeared to be flaring out and landing in front of the Capitol building. What the hell?

“For those of you just joining us, these are live pictures from Washington DC. A few minutes ago, the AP reported on the wire that the US government is being evacuated from the capital. No reason has been given but this comes on the heels of the FAA grounding air traffic. The helicopters you see in the video are military no doubt. Something apparently is happening although no official word has come out of the White House, Pentagon or anywhere else.”

Dan turned around and called to his wife downstairs. “Lori! Come up here quick.”

Scene 2

“Something’s wrong here,” General Coleman reported next from Omaha. “The projected impact area for the remaining two missiles now looks to be over the Atlantic, off Cape Hatteras.”

“What does that mean exactly?” The President asked.

“It means they might be malfunctioning, sir” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff offered, and then stopped short of continuing.

“Well, that’s good news.” The Vice President chirped. Secretary Russo had forgotten that she was linked into the conversation as well. Helicopter blades could be heard beating violently in the background.

“Not necessarily,” Coleman advised. “The birds could be fused for EMP. A burst out there would affect the eastern seaboard at least. Maybe even farther inland depending on the warhead size and impact altitude. We could be looking at an EMP event. Final wave of interceptors are away now, Sir.”

 SecDef ordered himself not to panic Electromagnetic pulse was a scenario that had not even entered his mind. The past twenty-four plus minutes had been a whirlwind. If one or both of the surviving missiles did detonate at high altitude the effect on electronic equipment across the eastern one third of the country would be catastrophic. NAOC was shielded against EMP effects, Russo reminded himself. Marine One was not.

“Mister President,” he breathed. “I advise you to land wherever you are at the moment.”

“I concur,” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs agreed at once. The President was not to be deterred, however.

“Look, we’re coming up on the Beltway now. Washington isn’t a target and I’ll be airborne in five minutes.”

Russo was about to try again when there was a large pop audible over the communications net, followed by a brief fizzle and then nothing.

            “Flash,” one of the officers sitting at a nearby console reported immediately. “OPREP 3. Pinnacle. NUCFLASH. One hundred fifty-seven thousand, two hundred twenty-nine feet. Atlantic Ocean, seventy point three miles southwest of Cape Hatteras. Two detonations.” 

Update On The Future of Final Days of America

Evening, everyone. I’m sorry for not posting in a couple of weeks. Real life got in the way and I’ve been busy trying to keep up with the stuff that pays the bills, etc. 😊

I wanted to take a minute to post an update on what the future of Final Days will hold. Unfortunately, I think we’ve reached the end of the road with the journal format and entries. To be honest, it has gone way farther than I originally anticipated. Not a bad thing at all, mind you. But I do believe it’s time to move on to something new.

The next phase of Final Days of America is going to be presented in a narrative format and be centered on Daniel Wertz and his family in the first months following the EMP attack. Now, given how far the journal format has gone, there are going to be some changes coming to the timeline in order to keep it fresh and interesting. I am working on everything right now and expect to start posting in early June. I’m undecided on whether or not I’ll keep the narrative entries on this site or set up an entirely new one solely for that. By late next week I’ll  have everything figured out and will post an update to let the readers know what to expect and when.

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and we’ll talk soon. –Mike

Thursday May 8, 2025

10:15 PM

Today’s Weather: Mixture of sun and clouds. High 78. 65 now.

This morning’s cabinet meeting started around 9 AM and by 9:15 the Secretary of the Treasury had the room’s undivided attention as she explained in rather layman terms why the global economy is poised to slide off of a cliff by the end of the summer. She was, in fact, passionate in her assessment that a collapse is imminent unless resolute and rather unorthodox action is taken. Naturally, SecTreas has a plan in mind, and she is going to present it to the cabinet in the morning.

To be honest, I’m skeptical of the warning. The global economy is in horrible condition, of that there’s no doubt. If it is truly teetering on the brink I’d expect to see more clues and signs emerging. An indication of the looming ‘imminent’ economic disaster. So far, I’m not seeing it. Granted, I’m not an economist or investment banker. But considering what I’ve been through these last few years, it is safe to say I can sniff out trouble from a mile away. And right now, I am not picking up the scent.

Monday May 5, 2025

10:07 PM

Today’s Weather: Sunny, breezy. High 74. 65 now.

On January 1 of 2026 the House and Senate will be back to normal in terms of party representation and numbers. Hopefully. Until then, the current crop of representatives and senators are being forced to navigate a dangerous river of precedents and uncertainty. Even though peace has largely returned to our country with the removal of the Chinese threat, much work remains to get the country back on its feet. To my frustration, a certain number of politicians are behaving like its 2022 all over again and everything is normal. Take today, for example. I was at the Capitol for a closed-door meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations committee. The main topic to be discussed was the position we are taking on possible negotiations between Russia and the EU. Unfortunately, a handful of members took it upon themselves to shift the talk to another subject altogether. I can’t go into detail about what that subject was but believe me when I say it was trivial to say the least.

Politicians will be politicians, I suppose. War or peace, good or bad. I only wish that wasn’t always the rule.

Saturday May 3, 2025

11:38 PM

Today’s Weather: Mix of sun and clouds. High 74. 66 now.

Lori is throwing herself into planning family getaways for the summer. It’s hard to grasp the fact summer isn’t all that far off. Alex and Megan will be home from their respective schools in a little over a week. David is growing moss down in Colorado Springs, according to his last email. Meanwhile, yours truly is embracing his duties as the vice president. Alright, that is something of an overstatement, I admit. But the job is growing on me, I have discovered to my surprise. Or maybe I am just getting used to it. After all, People Magazine has declared me to be the most popular American politician since Ronald Reagan. High praise, indeed. Which makes me wonder what I will do after the politics gig comes to an end. And it will at some point. It might do me well to think about future plans once in a while. All good things must come to an end.

Friday May 2, 2025

8:29 PM

Today’s Weather: Sunny. High 68. 63 now.

One topic coming up almost daily on the campaign trail is the future of the eastern US. The majority of Americans favor rebuilding and repopulating the states in the east affected by the EMP strike and its aftermath. And there is also a vocal minority that is calling for the government to disregard the east and push ahead into the future without it. The president and I are totally against that prospect, but a handful of candidates seem to be warming up to the notion. Or at least taking the time to debate the pros and cons. Campaign season is entering a quiet spell for the next ten days. By that time the Supreme Court will be ready to deliver its decision on the case filed by the state governments of Rhode Island and Vermont concerning what will happen with their states’ electoral votes. The campaign has not been much of a contest for the McAlister/Wertz ticket. We are basically running as a third party for the most part. Which means the normal Republican and Democratic candidates have been duking it out mostly. Voter turnout has been high however, and this is benefiting us tremendously. Not too bad for a couple of men who never ran for public office before. 😊